Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cloth Diapers - Yes, Working Moms. You CAN Do It!

Choosing to try out cloth diapers with my daughter came as an evolution of sorts. I think it was a combination of having one friend (yes, just one!) who had done it, combined with some of my favorite bloggers taking it on. My friend worked part-time and most of the bloggers who were trying it did not work outside the home. This made me skeptical because I honestly didn't know if I could do it while working. One day, I came across one Mama blogger I was following that worked full-time. She really inspired me to believe that it was something I could at least try.

During those first several months, Velcro diapers were a most for those middle of the night diaper changes.

I did some posts on my own blog about:

Our decision to cloth diaper. This post includes my main reasons at the time to try it out including: cost, functionality, cuteness, safer and more comfortable for baby’s skin and definitely better for the environment.

Update on our progress once Elyse arrived. This post discussed everything from why I recommend using disposables at first and easing into cloth, the diapers I tried including my favorite brand, Velcro vs. snaps, my love of the diaper sprayer, how we store our dirty diapers, why we love cloth wipes and our laundry process.
I LOVE using warm, cloth wipes. They are so much better at cleaning up messes..

Bottom line, if you are considering cloth diapering, talk to people who have done it before - and recently. The diapers of today are nothing like the diapers we were in as babies. While some who have never tried cloth diapering will encourage and/or support you, others will tell you it is too much work, will assume it means you are using a diaper service, tell you they’re too expensive, “gross” and even mock you for considering it. I have experienced it all – believe me. More than one person has literally laughed at me when I told them we were going to try it. I have no problem talking to someone who tried cloth diapers and were unsuccessful. I do, however, struggle with the negativity from those who have little experience with it and are judgmental. Diapers, like anything, are just an option and certainly not for everyone. For instance, if I was single or had a husband who didn’t take on an active parenting role with our daughter, it might get a little bit overwhelming and frankly, I probably wouldn't do it.

I have lots of detail in the links above about how we cloth diaper, but here is a little about what I've learned and/or changed up since I went back to work in January. 

Laundry from before baby even came. Those are Thirsties covers that we hardly used.

We wash our diapers every three days now. Two extra loads of laundry a week – not so bad. Plus, Bill and I take turns. It isn’t a set schedule, but we try to fairly share the responsibility so it really only amounts to washing and stuffing the clean diapers once a week for each of us. In order to be able to wash diapers three times a week we did have to make another change.

We bought more diapers. We have 36 diapers now. I know, that's a LOT. In fact, it is a pretty hefty stash for most families and definitely not a requirement. But for us, it made it much easier. Elyse goes through – on average – ten diapers a day. If we only wash diapers every three days, we don’t have enough clean diapers to put in the diaper bag for the next day when she goes to hang with her Grandmas on work days. This wasn’t an issue when I was at home, but a lesson we learned along the way. To maximize cost effectiveness, one blogger shared they wash all their diapers at the same time and leaves the one clean diaper on baby. This would never work for us. First, I am never one to gamble only having one clean diaper. In addition, that family dries their diapers. Our wash/dry process takes much longer. We don’t do two separate washes. We use a setting on our washer that takes two full hours – it is a heavy duty setting that gets out the stains, plus it is set to an extra rinse to remove any excess detergent that can cause diaper buildup (and leaks). We line dry all of our covers and that takes at least 24 hours given we are in the Northwest and there is no outdoor line drying for us right now.

Diaper Rash. Babies generally get less diaper rashes with the newer generation of cloth diapers. We have had one diaper rash, but it was only when she was incredibly sick with pneumonia and she had diarrhea every diaper change. A little Grandma El’s diaper rash ointment, as recommended by Julie at Simple Cloth, was a miracle worker and it literally went away in twenty-four hours. We used fleece liners on those days as not to ruin our diapers (Diaper cream creates a barrier on the baby’s bum so it can ruin the diapers making the diapers repel, rather than absorb moisture).

Disposables For On-the-Go. Elyse hasn’t been in disposables that much at all. In fact, I bought a jumbo pack of size 1 and then size 2/3. We still have size 1s that she has pretty much grown out of and I don’t know if we’ll ever make it through all of the bigger size either. In the few times she has been in a disposable, we’ve experienced more than one blowout (not pretty); I can only remember this happening one time in a cloth diaper. For this reason, I don’t put her in disposables as often as I used to when we are just running around town. I don’t want to risk a poopy blowout away from home. Ugh – those are messy!

Childcare. We are fortunate that Elyse is not in daycare and gets watched by Grandmas. We told both of them that we'd provide them with disposables and if they didn't want to use the cloth, they didn't have to. However, both use them each time they watch Elyse and happily, we haven't had any issues. They each even rinse out the poo'ey ones for us even though that is not something we'd ever ask them to do. But, we sure appreciate it!

Still a newborn, BumGenius, looked pretty big on her then.

Bottom line, choosing what type of diaper you want for your baby is a personal choice and no one else’s business. Using cloth diapers is definitely not for everyone. Using cloth doesn’t make you a better or more responsible parent. However, it is something that over time I've really enjoyed sharing with others. It isn't that I want everyone to do it - it has more to do with it not being as common. Every time I change Elyse's diaper in mixed company there is at least one person, if not more, who has never seen a diaper like that before and it generally leads to a number of questions. We've just been so happy with them, I like to share our experience and am hopeful it encourages more people to at least give it some thought.

Curious about cloth diapers? Know someone who is thinking about it? Here are resources I’ve used:

Simple Cloth – local store for me, but they ship nationwide. Not only can you buy diapers and accessories there, they are available for you to call or e-mail with any questions. An invaluable resource and, no doubt, one of the main reasons we haven’t given up. Any little issue or problem we’ve run into, their owner, Julie has been able to resolve for me.

Young House Love. This is a DIY, home renovation/design blog that I’ve been following for a while. They are also first-time parents and have shared their experiences with cloth diapers, which I’ve found quite helpful.

My Life in Transition – Julia is a working Mom who has been very open about her experiences as a new parent. This Mama tells it like it is and talks about stuff I would never share publicly. However, I love that she does because it has helped me more than once know I'm not alone! I’ve really appreciated the information she has shared on cloth diapering Truman (oh my gosh, that baby is cute!). I’d have to say her situation and views most closely mirror my own.

Mama at Home – Kristen’s blog was very helpful to me when I was pregnant. She chronicled her own pregnancy via her blog, so when it was my turn I went back to her site to see where she was at week-by-week to compare/contrast to my own experience. While we are very different in terms of our parenting styles, I absolutely respect her honesty and openness about life with her new baby.

And just some other informational and/or shopping sites: Diaper Pin. Diaper Swappers. Cotton Babies.

If you have any questions, please let me know by comment or e-mail!

PS: Just yesterday, I helped my friend register at Simple Cloth. She is due in July and going to give cloth diapers a whirl! So excited for her!

- Courtney

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